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Iran is exploring options to construct a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility, which it plans to use for exporting natural gas to Europe. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is in talks with an unnamed Norwegian company to build the facility at the Iranian ports, according to Ali Kardor, Vice President of investment and finance at NOIC.
Though the NOIC official did not name the Norwegian company, sources told Natural Gas Europe that Norway’s Golar LNG is possibly negotiating the deal. Golar is likely to send a ship to study the project and undertake similar projects at other Iranian ports and build the infrastructure to commence gas exports by 2017. Related: Struggle For Libya’s Oil Wealth Reaches Climax
The FLNG facility is a new technology where the whole operation of production, liquefaction, storage and transfer of the natural gas is done at sea by a floating platform located offshore. The whole facility is built in one-quarter of the area needed for conventional LNG projects, while still maintaining high safety standards.
The technology has numerous environmental and economic advantages. It avoids the expensive construction of large pipelines and other onshore infrastructure, and it also provides access to several unviable offshore projects.
The gas from the natural gas field is transferred to the FLNG, where it is liquefied at -162? C, thereby compressing the volume by 600 times.
The liquefied gas is then stored in the hull of the FLNG and transferred to carrier ships, which take them to their desired destination.
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By constructing FLNG facilities, Iran is laying down a long-term plan, wherein, once the facility is commissioned, it will only need to arrange for carrier ships without worrying about any pipeline-related disruptions—pipelines that are often a target of rebels and terrorists. It will also have the flexibility to export the liquefied gas to various places instead of being bound by the fixed pipeline territories.
Iran had to scrap three LNG Projects—Iran LNG, Pars LNG and Persian LNG due to issues associated with the US-led sanctions, reports presstv.ir.
Iran has been planning the FLNG platform for a while. The first hints about it were given back in October 2015 by NOIC chief Rokneddin Javadi. Similarly, NOIC Managing Director Alireza Kameli had indicated that Golar will most likely build the FLNG setup, which will be operational within two years of the date of the agreement.
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Back in February, Golar CEO Gary Smith had discussed two projects, one in West Africa and the other in the Middle East; however, he had not divulged any further details.
Nevertheless, investors should wait for a confirmation of the deal, because earlier reports of talks with France and Belgium for erecting the FLNG facility did not materialise.
However, one thing is certain: Iran is exploring the FLNG route aggressively to start exporting as early as 2017 or 2018. If Iran manages to ink a deal, it could expand at a fast pace, meeting their goal of becoming one of the leading LNG suppliers in the world. After all, it has the second largest proven natural gas resource in the world after Russia.
By Rakesh Upadhyay for Oilprice.com
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Rakesh Upadhyay is a writer for US-based Divergente LLC consulting firm.